Dear WKU Faculty and Staff,
It is my pleasure to write this first note to you as Acting Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
I know that change is difficult and that we are at the beginning of a time for renewal. WKU continues to have challenges, and there is much hard work ahead of us. However, we know who we are and we understand our values. Operating on our principles and putting student success first will allow us to operationalize many of the goals in our new strategic plan, Climbing to Greater Heights. I am confident that our talented and dedicated faculty and staff will work together to achieve these goals.
I want you to know that my leadership style is collaborative and inclusive. I will do my best to engage with many of you and share information about Academic Affairs’ priorities and progress. Please know that I am always receptive to good ideas and creative solutions and I have already heard several. This reinforces my truly optimistic view of our future.
Finally, thank you for the notes of congratulations, support, and encouragement. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve WKU in this new role.
It will take me a “few” days to get up to speed on the many good (and challenging) things happening on this campus, but we will begin moving forward immediately, starting with the Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation.
The CAPE Committee has completed its review of all 380 of WKU’s academic programs—majors, minors and certificates—and is ready to present its recommendations to the Academic Affairs Committee of the WKU Board of Regents on Friday. (You can find this recommendation in the Board materials here.) This is a monumental undertaking, and I want to thank the deans, faculty and staff who have worked long and hard to bring it to this point. The process is arduous, but the reward is ensuring that WKU offers a portfolio of academic programs that are aligned with the interests and needs of our students and the region we serve.
What we have discovered in this process is that WKU is poised to do just that. Through this intensive self-assessment, we’ve identified 55 programs that we can transform into highly-engaging academic programs that will be more market relevant and connected to the jobs and careers our students will seek upon graduation.
We’ve identified another 15 programs in which we will invest additional resources in order to grow them, and another 209 programs that we can maintain as they are. By the end of next spring, we will have a dossier of exciting, reenergized and forward-thinking degree programs that will be an anchor for our growth strategy.
We have also identified 101 programs that have been recommended for suspension—11 undergraduate degrees, four graduate degrees and 86 other credentials such as minors and certificates. Of these, 42 currently have no students—one undergraduate, four graduate and 37 other credentials. The majority of the remaining programs have fewer than 10 students enrolled in each. When we began the process, deans and department heads had to make careful, deliberate and sometimes difficult choices in deciding which programs met the needs of our students and communities and were viable to maintain in our current economic environment. Given a declining population of high school students, downturn in the number of international students, and reduced state allocations, we need to optimize allocation of scarce resources to promote and support growth.
Rest assured students enrolled in a suspended program will be supported and allowed to complete their program. And while a degree program may be eliminated, we still may teach that subject to maintain the electives our students need to complete the Colonnade program or to support other programs.
Our students should have confidence that the programs we offer are vibrant, relevant, and important to both us and them. A healthy academic portfolio that clearly demonstrates the value and importance of a college education will reaffirm why the WKU student experience is top-quality.
Cheryl L. Stevens, Ph.D.
Acting Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs